Thursday, July 31, 2008

"Three years after Katrina, New Orleans experiencing theater boom"

Posted By on Thu, Jul 31, 2008 at 10:30 PM

A great piece by the Associated Press spreading the word around the world that the Crescent City stage scene is thriving:

"We're on the cusp of a renaissance," says actress Rikki Gee, who was living and working in Shreveport, La., in 2005, and returned to New Orleans after Katrina to help rebuild her home town.

"It's bursting at the seams," says Glenn Meche, director of the Marigny Theatre and gay-themed To Do Productions, which is putting on three of the season's four shows at Marigny.

Lots of familiar NOLA-theater names in the story, and this amazing tidbit:

Sometimes, there's even too much happening at once. Although Le Petit and Southern Rep stagger their openings, eight plays opened the second weekend in July. Shows are scheduled around Mardi Gras and the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, when theatre does poorly even though tourism surges.

What can I say? We like to go out, and we like to laugh and cry. And it probably doesn't hurt that so many of our playhouses have bars attached.

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Film Buzz

Posted By on Thu, Jul 31, 2008 at 8:54 PM

grp_pic.jpg

While Oliver Stone was busy filming W in Shreveport and Werner Herzog was preparing to film The Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans with Nicolas Cage, a team of area teens created Listening to Fireflies as part of the Samsung Mobile Fresh Films national filmmaking contest. The New Orleans team (pictured; more about them here) handled all aspects of production from casting to shooting to post-production addition of a soundtrack. Competing in the “Big Life Drama” category, they crafted a delicate and touching story about a family reuniting and communicating after time apart. View the film online here. There are also films from Dallas and Salt Lake City in their division. VOTE for your favorite film. If the New Orleans team wins, its film will be screened in the Samsung Fresh Films YOUTH FEST 2008 and then possibly be submitted to film festivals. Voting lasts from today through August 6.

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Guest blog: "Please forgive me if I don't grab my hangman's noose and storm city hall..."

Posted By on Thu, Jul 31, 2008 at 8:53 PM

(The following is by Gambit guest blogger and New Orleans East resident Clifton Harris, who maintains his own blog, Cliff's Crib. You can read more of his writing there.)

After listening to the radio this week and hearing callers speak about the big NOAH story on WWL, I realized we have a communication problem here in the city. I think black people try to explain what is viewed as support for the mayor and it doesn’t come out the right way. I thought I would take a shot at it.

Black people hate corruption more than any of you can imagine. We don’t show it as much publicly because we don’t know who to be mad with exactly. We usually live in areas where you can visually see the effects of what corruption and lack of funding can do. We have the parks and the schools with inadequate resources. We have the abandoned public buildings. Our quality of life is directly affected by these things. I am certain there is or was big time corruption and patronage in the city. I just get frustrated when the only things we get are Pampy, NOAH and Oliver Thomas. When are the big fish that we have been hearing about as the reason for our conditions going down? You can’t tell me that my community looks the way it does because someone has been dishonest or mismanaging funds but no one gets in trouble for it. When I see billion dollar problems and I get thousand dollar investigations I start thinking someone is playing games and picking on certain people.

I’m not trying to minimize NOAH, Pampy Barre, or Oliver Thomas. I have said in the past that these little things add up to the huge problems the city has had for decades because it discourages people from coming to the city and investing time and money here. If someone did something wrong they should pay the price for it. All I am asking is that the size and scope of the scheme matches the neglect I see. I see how everyone is rallying around this NOAH story but if you added up all the questionable payments on that list it would be a drop in the bucket of the money that has been drained from this city. That’s what I want to find out about.

I want the folks who caused me to have a ten year old 7th grade English book investigated. What about the people who crippled NORD leaving the poor kids of the city with no organized recreation? What happened to all of the money the gambling industry was supposed to bring? Why isn’t Lincoln Beach open yet? Why didn’t any class I sat in from 7th to 12th grade have air conditioning? Where has all the money been going even before Ray Nagin and Marc Morial got in office?

If someone can find out and indict these people regardless of their color we will make them King of Chocolate City. We would welcome that because no one has suffered because of whatever they did or didn’t do more than we have. Until then please forgive me if I don’t grab my hangman’s noose and storm city hall because a contractor got paid to gut a house that he didn’t.

If we can’t find the big fish that everyone keeps saying is out there, the next logical explanation would be discrimination based on race and class. I don’t really want to believe that but no one is showing me otherwise.

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Introducing Gambit guest bloggers

Posted By on Thu, Jul 31, 2008 at 8:08 PM

As the Blog of New Orleans (aka "Gambit Daily") expands, we'll be bringing in other voices and other writers on a regular basis: Gambit's new guest bloggers. I'm excited.

There are a lot of good writers in the New Orleans blogosphere. Some of them are actually great. (There are a few clunkers, too, of course -- but newspapers and magazines also have their share of those.) Meanwhile, newspapers don't have room to print the thoughts of all the good writers in the community...and as you probably know, most daily papers are shrinking by the day.

Our solution: guest bloggers -- people with whom we'll contract for a limited number of posts on any topic of their choosing. They will have to conform to Gambit's rules about slander/libel and obscenity/profanity, just like any other writer on this site. Beyond that, we won't be telling them what to write, and we won't be editing them. We will be printing their thoughts, linking back to their pages, and hoping that you'll engage them in dialogue both here and on their home turf. And when their contracts are up and we've moved on to the next guest blogger, we hope you'll continue reading our bloggers emeritus on their own Web sites.

To anticipate your next question: yes, the guest bloggers will be paid like any other writer for Gambit. There are a lot of Web sites out there (some of them mighty mighty) that entice writers to write for free with the dubious promise of "valuable exposure." (I've made my living writing for 20 years and have yet to have "valuable exposure" pay my rent or wash my socks.) The money is not much, but it's enough for a few lunches (or Abitas). More than that, it's a sign of respect for the writers you'll read here...and for aspiring writers and bloggers everywhere: your words are valuable.

This guest-blogger thing is still evolving. I'm sure there are other issues, and we'll deal with them as they arise. But for right now, this is all I can think of. If you have any questions, leave them in the comments and I'll see if I can get answers for you.

Later today you'll meet our first guest blogger: Clifton Harris of Cliff's Crib. Cliff lives in New Orleans East, and he's been blogging since 2004.

We passed around Cliff's first piece at the lunch table today, and it engendered a lot of discussion. I hope you'll like reading what Cliff has to say, and I hope you'll talk to him...and us. --Kevin

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Meet your new middle linebacker: Jonathan Vilma and his many languages

Posted By on Thu, Jul 31, 2008 at 6:26 PM

vilma press conference

I'll admit that the hoopla over Jonathan Vilma died down a while ago since he was traded back in February. And while we know how a fresh start has led to Vilma taking a leading role, how his presence should bolster the Saints defense, how it was one of the biggest trades during the off season and how he now resides in the Warehouse District, how much do we actually know about Vilma the person?

Continue reading »

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Coach Payton knows how to beat the heat

Posted By on Thu, Jul 31, 2008 at 5:15 PM

Coach payton

Guess what? It has more to do than just wearing white (although that certainly helps). In anticipation of the downright miserably hot weather that afflicts summers in Jackson (and the rest of the midwest), Payton had a cooling tent (that big white thing in the background of the above pic) installed next to the Saints practice fields complete with air conditioning.

"There are some other teams using it. Mickey [Loomis] and I talked about it a year ago and having that," he said. "Then this year Mickey said, 'Hey what do you think about us looking into this?'"

Continue reading »

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Les Miles is down with the Hippity-Hop Music

Posted By on Thu, Jul 31, 2008 at 4:13 PM

Snoop and Les, photo by Arthur D. Lack/The Advocate

Words cannot even begin to describe this picture. First of all, where's Les Miles hat? Secondly, isn't Snoop Dogg a USC fan? Thirdly, what on God's green earth are they doing together? The Advocate article does little to explain Snoop's apperance at Miles' annual Rotary Club appearance (at least in my mind):

“I just wanted to give my love and support to coach Miles,” Snoop Dogg said as he briefly stepped behind the podium. “I met him last night."

“So you’ve got my love and support, from S.C. I’m here to support him.”

Miles, it seems, also supports Snoop and is a fan of his music. Or rather, his son is:

Miles, who visited Snoop Dogg at his hotel Tuesday night after returning from a quick trip to Shreveport, said he’s become a fan of the artist through his son, Ben.

“Ben Miles is all over Snoop’s stuff,” Miles said.

“I found every guy around him is a former coach or player, and he runs a league of youth football and provides opportunities for young people.

“I defend his music, and am much more a fan of the person.”

What's there not to love about Snoop Dogg the person? Oh, right.

In all fairness though, Snoop has changed his image from gangster rapper to family man over the years, but that won't stop me from posting these memorable lyrics from the song "Gin and Juice":

My homey Dr. Dre came through with a gang of Tanqueray/And a fat ass J, of some bubonic chronic that made me choke/S**t, this ain't no joke/I had to back up off of it and sit my cup down/Tanqueray and chronic, yeah I'm f****d up now

Photo by Arthur D. Lack/The Advocate

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Tremé HIV/AIDS nonprofit closes its doors today

Posted By on Thu, Jul 31, 2008 at 4:13 PM

In This Together, Inc., the social services agency founded in 2004 to provide HIV/AIDS services to New Orleans' at-risk communities, is ceasing client services today, having failed to secure a round of funding that would allow the agency to continue serving more than 225 mostly minority individuals with HIV.

The reason, according to executive director Michael Hickerson, is the City of New Orleans' inability to distribute mandated federal funds.

In an interview this morning, Hickerson said, "It’s so unfortunate that nonprofits [agencies] that are making positive differences in this community are getting no support, while other nonprofits that have less of an impact get all the funding they need in a timely manner. I hope people can read between the lines here."

In a statement about the agency's closing, In This Together has promised to "assist with the transition of its clients to other agencies, some of which are also in jeopardy of closing due to the inability of the City of New Orleans to effectively administer mandated programs and available federal funding in a timely manner."

(Gambit attempted to reach Fran Lawless, MHA director in the city's Office of Health Policy for AIDS Network Funding, but her telephone number listed on the city's website was not working.)

Hickerson estimates that 75-80% of ITT's clients were African-American, but adds that the group also served "non-traditional gay white guys" who felt they didn't, for various reasons, "fit into the mainstream gay community."

According to figures on the group's website, New Orleans ranks 7th nationwide in HIV/AIDS cases; part of the Tremé neighborhood ranks first in HIV/AIDS case rates in the city; more than 70% of all new HIV/AIDS diagnosed individuals living in the New Orleans area are African-American; and approximately 85% of all women living with HIV/AIDS in the New Orleans area are African-American.

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Sedrick Ellis joins the Saints: The Video

Posted By on Thu, Jul 31, 2008 at 2:00 PM

In case you were wondering just how fast Sedrick Ellis talks, here's the video proof.

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